spring flowers
I attended a really interesting talk this morning on EFW (energy from waste) in this case they take solid municipal waste (the stuff you put out at the curb) and burn it to create steam that powers turbines to make electricity. It turns out to be a really great alternative to landfills (the process doesn’t create methane and takes up less space), and is a really great source of alternative energy. It’s hard to believe but for every ton of of garbage that’s burned it saves a ton of oil.
I know that this is old news in a lot of the EU, but it’s something that’s done on a relatively small scale in the states. Which is kind of sad considering we produce 25% of the world’s trash with only 5% of the population.
What I really liked about the presentation, was the fact that even though they (Covanta) rely on the use of our solid waste they really emphasized finding other forms of renewable energy and they put a large premium on recycling. Something like this doesn’t eliminate our waste problem, it just helps take the edge off of it.
What did kind of upset me was that although they did talk a bit about the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). They didn’t really stress the second one at all, although given the fact that most people skip the first two I was surprised to hear them talk about reduction of waste. For the most part it was more of a overall reduction in packaging and the sort of stuff that can be done on a business level as opposed to a personal level, but it was still nice to hear.
Overall it was a really interesting talk. It was a nice reminder that all this stuff we’re buying ends up in those ugly methane-producing, toxic landfills and that we really do have to do something about that. Even as I’ve tried to cut down on the stuff I buy and reduce the impact I have on the environment I tend to forget about that part of the picture. I guess I always just assumed that it went away and that suddenly even though I felt guilty about throwing stuff out that somehow it all got taken care of. Well that’s not exactly true and hopefully I’ll remember that.

There’s another talk tonight on peak oil so hopefully I’ll get to go to that. If not I’ll probably be here reading Kitchen Literacy since I’ve got to get it back to the library in two weeks and I only got it this morning.